BRIAN Cowen was strongly criticised today after he claimed he should be given credit for Ireland's recovery.
The former Taoiseach said that a raft of austerity budgets delivered by his Fianna Fail led government had helped stabilise the economy.
Mr Cowen said that he and his cabinet colleagues made decisions "to the best of our ability" and that the current coalition should recognise that.
He referred specifically to the four austerity budgets implemented after his government was forced to call in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial aid.
However his remarks were described as "breathtaking" today by Fine Gael.
Mr Cowen was speaking at the launch of a new book based on the life of the late Kerry footballer Paidi O Se.
He said he is "quite sanguine" about how history will judge him as a politician and that he has been "hopefully generous" about the work being done by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.
"We did our work to the best of our ability and I've been hopefully generous to this administration in the work that they've had to do," he said.
"Maybe at some stage they'd reciprocate in some measure [and recognise] that the four difficult budgets we had to bring in contributed to the stabilisation of the country as well at a time when things were very difficult."
Mr Cowen's remarks were strongly criticised by Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer, who said he was trying to "rewrite history".
"Any suggestion that tributes of any sort should be paid to Brian Cowen for the budgets he brought in following the catastrophic collapse of our economy is breathtaking," the Cork South Central deputy told the Herald.
"Brian Cowen would be much better served reflecting on the policies he and his government introduced which resulted in Ireland losing our economy sovereignty and 250,000 jobs in just three years, rather than seeking plaudits and, in true Fianna Fáil style, attempting to re-write history."
Meanwhile, Mr Cowen was asked about an incident in the capital last week during which former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was the target of an alleged assault.
Mr Ahern was socialising in a well-known pub in Dublin when he was approached by a man wielding a crutch.
The man, who is in his 40s, swung the crutch at Mr Ahern but hit the bar instead. The ex-Fianna Fail leader is not believed to have sustained any injuries.
Speaking about the incident, Mr Cowen said: "I don't think that should be regarded as a typical incident, it isn't. Those things can happen."